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Apprehensions Remain about Cloud Migration, but Worries May Be Overblown

25 Nov 2014 by Christine Kern

Obstacles to Cloud Migration are Surmountable, with Best of Breed IT Options

Agencies want to double their Cloud use—across infrastructure, platforms, and applications—and pressure to migrate to the Cloud is growing because of its potential benefits, such as improved agility, greater collaboration, and lack of IT complexity. However, 89 percent of federal IT professionals still feel some migration apprehension because of concerns regarding data stewardship and management. In fact, 43 percent likened it to giving their son the keys to their new convertible.

A new report by MeriTalk, underwritten by NetApp and Arrow, examines how federal agencies are dealing with the Cloud control challenge. The “Cloud Control: Moving to the Comfort Zone” report examines data stewardship barriers and progress toward enterprise-wide governance, Cloud deployment growth projections, and how federal agencies are working with their Cloud service providers to manage the change.

Security concerns should not deter enterprises from using public Cloud technologies when it makes good business sense.

A panel of practitioners at the RSA Security Conference agreed that if Cloud providers are vetted properly, most enterprise workloads and data can be safely migrated to Cloud environments. The panel compared enterprise fears of Cloud security to early, now eased concerns about virtualization technology.

“The horse is largely out of the barn,” said John Pescatore, director of research at the SANS Institute. “There is no debate about whether we are going to use the Cloud,” he said.

Data stewardship programs can help. In the MeriTalk report, 55 percent of federal IT professionals say that Cloud makes data management/stewardship easier. They point to benefits such as easier upgrades and configuration management, stronger virtual staff support, faster data access, and system monitoring as some of the key benefits.

Some of the most common obstacles associated with managing Cloud services and vendors include remediation for data exceptions, data integration, and collaboration/interoperability as their top challenges. And even though 54 percent of the MeriTalk respondents stated that security is their top concern, four out of five feel the security offered by their Cloud vendors is insufficient, and only a third of federal agencies met their June 5 deadline to ensure their Cloud solution met FedRAMP security criteria.

“The benefits Cloud offers are immense, but with the introduction of new hybrid Cloud architectures, data stewardship becomes even more complex, as data must be managed and accessed across any Cloud. Federal agencies must establish enterprise-wide governance practices, while deploying solutions that streamline data mobility and stewardship across Cloud models. Cloud consumers must develop data management processes and role-based control mechanisms to ensure success,” said Kirk Kern, chief technology officer, NetApp U.S. Public Sector.

“Federal end users are looking to the Cloud for options that are faster, safer and a better value than traditional IT,” said Dee Dee Lear, vice president, Cloud and business development, Arrow ECS. “To get more comfortable with the transition, agencies should seek out partners that offer best-of-breed IT services and focus on government data security for a proven path to Cloud success.”

“Cloud Control: Moving to the Comfort Zone” is based on an online survey conducted in June 2014 of 153 federal IT professionals who have implemented Cloud computing as part of their IT strategy. The report has a margin error of ±7.89 at a 95 percent confidence level. To download the full study, please visit www.meritalk.com/cloudcontrol.